Matt Mitrione is about to embark on the biggest fight of his young career, taking on seasoned competitor Cheick Kongo this Saturday night in the co-main event of UFC 137. Mitrione is only a veteran of five-fights and some may think that he’s in over his head against Kongo, who’s spent time in the cage with some of the best in the sport over his 24-fight pro career. Regardless of that, Mitrione feels supremely confident heading into this fight, largely thanks to the efforts of his coaching staff.
“I’ve been fortunate. I’ve had some really good coaches and some people that are very experienced and have a great amount of knowledge to impart on me and they’ve been willing to help me,” said Mitrione. “I’ve worked with coach Ray Sefo quite a bit, worked with Neil Melanson, and even worked with Randy (Couture) on clinch, on wrestling and fence work. So, I’ve been pretty fortunate. Then I went down to Fort Lauderdale, worked with Rashad and Tyrone Spong and just learned quite a bit from those boys down there. Tyrone and Pat Barry, you can’t get too many better striking coaches to work with hands on every day.”
Mitrione knows that his performance against Kongo will go a long way in showing whether or not he can live up to his growing expectations and become a legitimate contender at heavyweight. Whether he wins or loses, Mitrione is going on the record as saying he’s going to enter the cage at his very best yet.
“Most definitely (it gives me confidence),” Mitrione said of training with the aforementioned cast of mentors. “I mean it’d give anybody confidence, right? If I can bang around on the fence with Randy then I feel I can hold my own against whoever. It’s a good thing. I’ve been fortunate that people have interest in my career. Even though a lot of people though coach ‘Shad and I had issues, we get along really well. We’re both competitors, we’re both fiery, and we’re gonna get the best out of each other, that’s kind of something we work on. I have a lot of confidence coming into this fight. That’s why I said before, if Cheick beats me, he beat the best possible product I could give him. Then good for him, he was the better man that night. But, I feel ready. I’m ready to scrap.”
Mitrione is on deck to meet Kongo on Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. FightLine will be back on the night as always with our live, ongoing coverage of the fights.